Raccoon rabies surveillance and control operations

General notice

Rabies poses a threat to you and your domestic pets

If you have been bitten or scratched by an animal or in contact with its saliva, consult the Actions to take after coming into contact with a potentially infected animal section of rabies in humans.

If you suspect that your domestic animal has been in contact with a rabid animal, consult your veterinarian immediately.

If you suspect that a wild animal has rabies, stay away and report it at 1-877-346-6763 or fill the online form This hyperlink will open in a new window. . The animal could be collected for analysis.

The Gouvernement du Québec has implemented a plan to fight against raccoon rabies. It provides for surveillance and control operations to keep Québec free from this type of rabies.

Raccoon rabies surveillance and control operations target raccoons, skunks and foxes.

Surveillance operations

Surveillance operations consist of collecting animals that have died or show signs of rabies in high risk zones in order to carry out analyses to determine whether or not they are infected with the disease.

Raccoon rabies surveillance aims to:

  • Verify if the disease is present in Québec since cases are detected every year in wild animals in neighbouring states;
  • Document the duration, size of the territory affected and the intensity of the outbreak, were one to occur in Québec;
  • Closely monitor raccoon rabies outside Québec, since it is likely to pose a threat at our borders;
  • Provide data to support scientific and epidemiological findings and risk analyses.

Reports on the surveillance operations are available:

Enhanced surveillance zone

The enhanced surveillance zone located in Montérégie and Estrie is the territory most at risk of raccoon rabies introduction. Residents in this area are called upon to report suspicious animals year round. Their collaboration is essential because among all the specimens analyzed, the odds of detecting a rabid animal are highest among the animals reported by citizens.

The area includes 161 municipalities, Indigenous territories and unorganized territories (UTs). Consult the List of municipalities in Montérégie and Estrie targeted by the enhanced surveillance (PDF 254 Kb) and the map of Québec raccoon rabies enhanced surveillance area (PDF 1.35 Mb) to see the extent of the territory in this zone.

Increased risk of raccoon rabies introduction into Québec in 2024

Québec authorities are paying close attention to two areas in the northern United States because they present an increased risk for the reintroduction of raccoon rabies into Québec.

We are continuing to work closely with American authorities to implement the best strategies for limiting this risk.

Area between Burlington and the Québec border, in the state of Vermont

Since March 2022, several cases of raccoon rabies have been detected in raccoons and skunks in the Burlington area, in the U.S. state of Vermont. In 2023 and 2024, cases were detected closer to Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window.. American authorities are deploying large-scale interventions to limit the spread of this epidemic and eliminate it. In Québec, control operations are being planned to immunize wild animals and help to protect human health.

The population of certain municipalities in the Haut-Richelieu and Brome-Missisquoi RCMs must be vigilant due to their proximity to the area.

If you live in or visit these municipalities, be extra cautious in the presence of potentially rabid animals and report any suspicious wild animals.

Eustis, Maine area

In June 2023, a case of raccoon rabies was discovered in the Eustis area in northwestern Maine. American authorities have stepped up surveillance of wild animals suspected of carrying rabies in the area. Wild animal vaccination campaigns were carried out in the summer of 2023 to limit the risk of a rabies outbreak developing. No other cases have been detected.

In Québec, following the recommendations of an expert committee, the enhanced surveillance zone was adjusted to include 18 municipalities in the Estrie region This hyperlink will open in a new window. that are now at risk of raccoon rabies introduction. Close collaboration with U.S. authorities is continuing in order to implement the best strategies to limit this risk.

Control operations

Control operations seek to contain, reduce, or eliminate raccoon rabies in a given territory. The vaccination of wild animals through the manual and aerial distribution of vaccine baits is the main intervention measure. The aim is to immunize raccoons, skunks and foxes against the disease, to protect human health.

Following the detection in 2006 of the first case of raccoon rabies in Québec, the operations targeted the control and elimination of this rabies variant. The objective was attained in 2010. At present, the objective of the rabies control plan is to keep Québec free of raccoon rabies by avoiding its reintroduction, especially from the United States.

Because the threat of raccoon rabies reintroduction into Québec is considered high, control operations on Québec territory are being planned for the 2024 season.

Vaccine baits ground distribution

From April 22 to 30, 2024, vaccine baits will be spread manually in the Estrie and Montérégie regions in wooded areas, near bodies of water and occasionally near garbage cans. Teams from the Ministère de l’Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs will cover an area of nearly 660 km², distributing approximately 46,200 vaccine baits. View the list of municipalities in the Montérégie and Estrie regions where control operations will take place (PDF 214 Kb) and the map of control operations (PDF 1.14 Mb) targeting raccoon rabies in Québec to see where the vaccine baits will be spread.

Vaccine bait

Vaccine baits contain a vaccine for wild animals and their composition has been developed to specifically attract some species more than others. The vaccine contained in the bait is considered safe for humans, domestic animals and the environment and cannot transmit rabies to humans or animals under any circumstances. 

However, if the bait is covered with human odour, it may lose its attractiveness and effectiveness. It is therefore important to avoid handling them. There is also a small possibility that a person with a weakened immune system may develop an infection (such as a cold) and complications if they were in contact with the vaccine fluid. Like any other medicinal product, vaccine bait must be handled with care.

Vaccine bait resembles a greenish packet of ketchup or khaki green ravioli and has a sweet odour that attracts the target species. Their shells are designed to withstand the impact of air drops and weatherproof. Because of their camouflage colour, once spread, they blend in with the environment and are very difficult for humans to spot.

If you find vaccine bait

If the bait is intact, in a place accessible to wildlife and away from human activity, leave it there without handling.

To dispose of an intact vaccine bait that inadvertently ends up in a heavily trafficked area, in a harvest or in the immediate environment of farm animals, the best solution is to toss it in the trash. It is, however, recommended to wear gloves when handling the bait and to place it in a leakproof container (plastic bag, plastic dish, etc.) before discarding. Thoroughly clean any fruit or vegetables that may have been in contact with the bait.

If the bait is pierced or crushed, avoid contact with the vaccine liquid and use tools, such as a shovel, to dispose of it in a leakproof container. Always thoroughly wash your hands after handling.

In case of contact with a pierced or crushed bait, call Info-Santé 811 or dial the number on the back of the bait to assess if there is a health risk.

If vaccine bait has been in contact with fruits or vegetables intended for human consumption or ingested by a farm animal, notify the Canadian Centre for Veterinary Biologics at 1-855-212-7695 and the authorities of the provincial raccoon rabies vaccination program of the Ministère de l’Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs at 1-877-346-6763.

Last update: June 10, 2024


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